Burt Rutan

Elbert Leander “Burt” Rutan


  • B.S. Aeronautical Engineering, California Polytechnic University (1961-1965). [1]
  • Marketing and Personnel Management graduate level courses, Golden Gate College, (1968-1969). [1]
  • Academic portion of Aerospace Research Pilots School, Edwards AFB, (1965). [1]
  • Doctoral of Science, honoris causa, Daniel Webster College, (May, 1987). [1]
  • Honorary Doctor of Science, California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, (June, 1987). [1]
  • Doctoral of Humanities, honoris causa, Lewis University, (May, 1988). [1]
  • Doctoral of Technology, honoris causa, Delft University of Technology, (January, 1990). [1]
  • Doctoral of Engineering, honoris causa, University of Illinois, (June 2006). [1]

Rutan describes his work with climate science as one of his “Hobbies.” [2]


Burt Rutan is an American aerospace engineer who became famous for designing the Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.

He founded the aerospace research firm Scaled Composites in 1982, and announced his plans to retire in April 2011.

He currently serves as Scaled Composites’ Chief Technical Officer and following his retirement, will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus. [3]

Stance on Climate Change

“My study is NOT as a climatologist, but from a completely different perspective in which I am an expert … For decades, as a professional experimental test engineer, I have analyzed experimental data and watched others massage and present data. I became a cynic; My conclusion – ‘if someone is aggressively selling a technical product who’s merits are dependent on complex experimental data, he is likely lying’. That is true whether the product is an airplane or a Carbon Credit.” [2]

Key Quotes

“[I] do not hide the fact that I have a clear bias on AGW. My bias is based on fear of Government expansion and the observation of AGW data presentation fraud – and not based on any financial or other personal benefit.” [2]

Key Deeds

January 27, 2012

Rutan is one of 16 scientists who appended their signatures to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” [4]

The article argues that elected officials should avoid implementing climate change policy because it would “divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of ‘incontrovertible’ evidence.”

Media Matters reported on the 16 scientists who signed the Op-Ed, and found that most of them have not published any research in the area of climate science. Many, including Burt Rutan, have experience in fields entirely unrelated to climate science. Numerous other signatories also have connections to the oil and gas industry, or to industry think tanks.

When they contacted the Yale economist cited in the Op-Ed, he replied that it had been a “Complete Mischaracterization Of My Work.” [5]

Other “scientists” whose signatures appear include Claude Allègre, J. Scott Armstrong, Jan Breslow, Roger Cohen, William Happer, William Kininmonth, Richard Lindzen, James McGrath, Rodney NicholsHarrison H. Schmitt, Nir Shaviv, Edward David, Michael Kelly, Henk Tennekes, and Antonino Zichichi.

An article in Forbes  notes that another letter, written by 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, had been submitted to the Wall Street Journal (this letter on the realities of climate change) but had been rejected in favor of the sixteen-scientist letter. [6]

July 29, 2009

Rutan presented (PDF) at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s EAA Airventure 2009 Oshkosh Conference, partly on the subject of on climate change.

“The problem is that scientists, no matter how good they are, don’t know how to predict and model cloud formation and precipitation,” he said. “As the temperatures were going up from 1970-98, precipitation was going up. As the temperatures started dropping since 1998, precipitation has gone down.”

He claimed to present data that proved global warming was false. He also described how “CO2 is plant food, not a pollutant. It’s been 20 times as high as it now. If you have a 1.2 percent increase in cloud formation and precipitation, it offsets a 100 percent increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.” [7]

In his presentation, Rutan describes his “recommendations” as to “Drop the CCC (Climate Change Crisis) and all Cap & Trade legislation. CCC is naive, non-scientific, irrelevant, hopeless and oxymoronic. Its alarmists can use it to destroy US global competitiveness through Cap and Trade taxes.” [2]



According to a search of Google Scholar, both for a “Burt Rutan” and for an “Elbert Leander Rutan,” Rutan has not published any articles in peer-reviewed journals on any subject.

He does hold numerous aircraft patents, however. [1]


  1. Burt Rutan,” Curriculum Vitae at Royce Carlton Incorporated. Archived July 15, 2011.
  2. Burt Rutan. “Non-Aerospace Research Quests of a Designer/Flight Test Engineer” (PDF). Accessed January, 2012, from rps3.com.
  3. “Burt Rutan Announces Retirement Plans” (PDF), Scaled Composites, November 3, 2010.
  4. No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2012.
  5. The Journal Hires Dentists To Do Heart Surgery,” Media Transparency, January 30, 2012.
  6. Peter Gleick. “Remarkable Editorial Bias on Climate Science at the Wall Street Journal,” Forbes, January 27, 2012.
  7. Barbara A. Schmitz. “Full house turns out to see Burt Rutan,EAA Airventure Today, July 31, 2009.
  8. The Management Team,” Scaled Composites. Archived March 10, 2010.
  9. The Management Team,” Scaled Composites. Accessed January 30, 2012.

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